This video is causing quite a stir – it shows Swedish Olympian Patrik Kittel warming up his 10-year-old stallion Watermill Scandic before an FEI World Cup Dressage qualifier in Denmark. The video shows him riding in hyperflexion, which I hesitate to call a “method” of training. I am not a dressage trainer and have not spent extension time studying hyperflexion (also called rolkur), but I have spent enough time studying horses to notice that this stallion’s nose is pinned down against his chest for entirely too long to be comfortable. The stallion’s bluish-colored tongue hanging out of his mouth is a gross side effect– and is Kittel leaning forward and stuffing Scandic’s tongue back into his mouth at about 1:15??? Ew.
(if you don’t have flash you can see the video here)
If anyone would like to explain to me the supposed benefit of hyperflexion, I’d be very interested to hear it. In theory dressage is about relaxation, suppleness and partnership – but this doesn’t seem to be anything close to that happening here.
Epona.tv, which shot the video, alleged that Kittel rode Scandic in hyperflexion for almost two hours. Kittel was quoted as saying that his walk breaks were edited out and the clip was taken out of context. But five minutes of watching this horse piaffe and trot around like that makes the top of my neck hurt. I can only imagine how Scandic felt. The FEI has opened an investigation to determine if horse abuse did occur.